Disney World is giving a Guest-favorite attraction the axe as Magic Kingdom prepares to welcome Guests with a brand-new experience.
At the Walt Disney World Resort, there’s something for everyone to enjoy, to embrace, and to finally describe as their favorite thing to do or experience at the parks. Whether it’s boarding a cart to experience the wild, wild west at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland, stepping into the diamond mines with the Seven Dwarfs at the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction in Fantasyland, or boarding a spaceship and jettisoning themselves from planet Earth into the cosmos at Space Mountain in Tomorrowland, something magical happens as Guests walk through the gates at Disney World’s four theme parks–a magical transformation that takes them back to their childhoods, and nowhere at the Central Florida Disney Resort is this more true than at the Resort’s first park, Magic Kingdom.
Magic Kingdom opened in October 1971 and welcomed Guests with exciting attractions and experiences that brought many of Walt Disney Animation’s beloved classic films to dazzling life. Guests could see characters from their favorite animated classics and even step into the story as they experienced attractions at the Disney theme park that made Guests a part of the fairytales and stories that they’d come to love since Disney’s first-ever feature-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). The same is even more true today.
As time moves forward and crowds continue to grow at the Disney Parks, so does the need for updates and refurbishments of park attractions and rides. And from time to time, the popularity of one experience over another–or the popularity of one Disney film over another–leads to the scrapping of an attraction entirely so that room can be made for another one.
Such is the case currently at Magic Kingdom, where Imagineers are gearing up to scrap one attraction completely and begin the work of creating a new experience in its place. A permit recently filed by Adena Corporation gives some insight into a brand-new experience coming to Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom at Fairytale Garden near Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe and Cheshire Cafe.
For years, the location has been “set” in the Scottish highland, at the castle where Merida from PIXAR’s Brave (2012) makes her home. Since 2012, Guests have come to Fairytale Garden to meet the ginger princess who’s far more interested in archery and changing her fate than in being courted by the son of another country’s king.
Guests were first able to meet Merida at EPCOT before she made the move to Magic Kingdom. Since that time, Guests have traveled to Scotland (inside Magic Kingdom, of course) for a one-of-a-kind “play-and-greet” experience at the theme park. Meeting Merida has always been an exciting and interactive experience for kids and kids at heart. While in the queue for the experience, Guests can practice their archery skills and color their very own “tapestry” of Merida and her faithful steed, Angus, before meeting the princess herself.
Recently, however, Disney Parks announced plans for a change to the experience at Fairytale Garden–one that will bring the beauty and magic of the Colombian mountains to Magic Kingdom. First, though, Imagineers will need to work their magic to turn the moorlands of Scotland into the mountains of the South American country–but if anyone can do it, it’s Disney’s Imagineers.
Mirabel from Disney’s award-winning 60th animated feature film Encanto (2021) will soon begin to meet Guests at Magic Kingdom. Encanto was released at the box office in November 2021 and on Disney+ in December 2021 and was an instant success. With catchy songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a timeless story about the power and value of the family unit, Disney’s Encanto immediately amassed a massive fan base, and nearly two years later, the number of fans who love the story about the amazing Madrigal family living deep in the Colombian mountains at casita only continues to grow.
The permit filed by Adena only lists “general construction” but bares the address for Magic Kingdom’s Fairytale Gardens.
As of the time of this publication, meet-and-greet times at Fairytale Garden with Merida are listed through August–the same as other characters at the park, and it’s not clear when the venue will close so that the reimagining of the space can begin. As Imagineers account for the popularity of Encanto, they are–no doubt–tasked with creating an interactive space that welcomes Guests, that gives Guests the feeling that they’ve stepped into Colombia, and that can accommodate large crowds of eager fans who can’t wait to meet Mirabel and learn more about her amazing, magical family.
The overhaul could reportedly entail extensive work, and so far, there’s no official date for the closure of the Merida experience or the opening of the brand-new Encanto experience with Mirabel, but fans of the amazing Madrigals say they’re hoping to meet Mirabel at Magic Kingdom as soon as possible.